Archive by Author

Commentary: It’s Hard to Break the Rules When There Aren’t Any

11 Oct 2017

One of the great things about smoking cigars is that there are virtually no rules.

Consider for a moment one of the most-asked, most-discussed questions on cigar forums: Cello on or off?

The simple answer: Who cares?

Sure, there are some axioms. Like: Dispose of ashes and butts when you’re finished smoking unless you like the early morning aroma of a 1950s barroom. Or: Don’t bring your own cigars to smoke at a B&M unless you want to display a lack of class and reflect poorly on your upbringing.

But these tend to be more common sense than dictum.

Generally, cigar smoking is an individual activity with each of us free to pursue it as we see fit. Some build vast collections with rare and aged releases, while others simply appreciate an occasional Macanudo. Some are passionate devotees who take trips to fields and factories in their quest for cigar knowledge. Others, though, have little interest beyond lighting up and relaxing.

This lack of rules is, I think, one of the major reasons cigar smoking is a generally egalitarian pastime, attracting participants from nearly every social strata.

This was all sorely stressed during the cigar boom of the mid-1990s when poseurs and affected smokers overran the marketplace. Fortunately, that bubble deflated, taking the air out of those who tried to inject snobbery into the cigar world.

Yes, I know there are still cigar snobs and cigar shops where you’re made to feel a lesser species if you pick up a stick for under $20. Fortunately, though, that’s much the minority among cigar smokers.

And at least part of that seems to be because it’s not nearly as easy to belittle someone or pump up yourself when there are no rules that can be held against those who don’t follow them or are simply unaware they exist.

For me, there’s really only one cigar rule: Enjoy yourself.

George E

photo credit: Creative Commons

Cigar Review: Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto

2 Oct 2017

If your idea of a Connecticut cigar is an Altadis Montecristo or an Ashton Classic, this new offering from Cornelius & Anthony should be on your give-it-a-try list.

While there is a bit of the typical grassy Connecticut (though this wrapper is from Ecuador rather than New England) aroma on the pre-light, the first few puffs are bursting with spice and a strong finish. By the start of the second third, the spice has backed off and tobacco sweetness moves to the fore. In the final third, the spice amps up again, mingling with leather and a light earthiness.

Strength is firmly in the mid-level area. I smoked two for this review and each performed flawlessly, producing lots of thick smoke.

The Robusto (5 x 52) has a suggested price of $9.25 and is one of four sizes in the new line. The others are Gordo (6 x 60, $10.75), Toro (6 x 50, $9.75), and Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46, $8.75). All are made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The filler is Nicaraguan, while the only identification for the binder is that it is grown in the U.S.

Aerial is presented similarly to other Cornelius & Anthony cigars: a relatively large, ornate band identifying the company with a plain secondary band specifying the line. Also familiar in the packaging is the woodcut-style illustration—this one a hot air balloon that looks like it escaped from a Jules Verne tale.

I was curious about the name, and reached out to Cornelius & Anthony director of brand development, Courtney Smith. She said it began with “some beautiful aerial photos” she discovered in the company archive.

“The family has been growing tobacco on the same land in Keysville, Virginia, since the 1860s… and the photos were so interesting and informative, because they were a visual of the expanse of their property,” she wrote in an email. “As we talked about the land and the land’s history, the name and concept organically grew from there.”

Aerial was introduced at the summertime IPCPR Trade Show and began shipping recently. So far, it’s my favorite new release of 2017 and becomes my first five-stogie cigar this year.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Unicos

1 Oct 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

While I’ve smoked only a few of Pete Johnson’s Broadleaf Collection, this vitola is so far the best of the batch. It seemed to be amped up a bit in strength yet remains a smooth smoke. Pepper weaves in and out along the way, mixing with flavors like cinnamon, dark fruit, and espresso. Smoke production is superb. As I put it down at the end, I would have liked to light up another. Highly recommended.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Rocky Patel Fifteenth Anniversary Toro

17 Sep 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

When this line was released in 2010, it constituted a major advancement for Rocky Patel among many smokers who previously hadn’t given his cigars much consideration. Clearly a premium smoke, this box-pressed blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler under an Ecuadorian wrapper is rich with a little spice and notes of dark coffee bean and chocolate. While I prefer Rocky’s Twentieth Anniversary, I highly recommend the silver-banded Fifteenth.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Perdomo Habano Bourbon Barrel-Aged Sun Grown Gordo

16 Sep 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Like many of today’s baseball-bat sized smokes, this immense stick gets a bit tiresome unless you have something else to distract you. The tobaccos are all from Nicaragua, with the wrapper receiving additional aging in bourbon barrels, which may account for the slightly funky finish in the first third. The flavors are OK, but nothing special: a little wood, a little leather, mostly straight tobacco. And no real changes along the way. Burn, draw, and smoke production are fine. I’d recommend a smaller vitola, but there really aren’t any. Each of the four others in the line has a ring gauge of 54. At $8-9, the Gordo is reasonably priced, but, for me, there is nothing to make we want to pick up another.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Regios

10 Sep 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

This gritty-looking cigar is loaded with flavor and packs a punch from start to finish. Part of a special Tatuaje creation introduced last year, this Pete Johnson blend features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. My colleagues have already reviewed a few of the ten Broadleaf Collection sizes. This vitola (5.5 x 50) is a treat with a pleasant mix of wood, pepper, and sweetness.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Ten Do’s and Don’ts for New Cigar Smokers

6 Sep 2017

When you’ve been writing about cigars for as long as we have at—more than 11 years, actually—it can seem like every subject imaginable has been covered. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and remember that not all of our readers have been with us for years, and not everyone is a seasoned cigar veteran.

So this one is for the beginners. Those smokers who’ve just gotten into the hobby. After all, we like to think of our site as free of snobbery, judgement, or condescension. New smokers are most welcome here and encouraged to ask questions (either via comments or otherwise).

In honor of you, the new cigar smoker, here are ten do’s and don’ts addressing some questions you may have and, hopefully, helping you get off on the right foot.

Don’t ask your local cigar shop for Cubans. Now, let’s be honest. Some shops may have a stash of Cuban cigars for regular customers. But it’s still illegal, and you can get off on the wrong foot by bringing up the topic.

Don’t bring your own cigars into a shop to smoke. It’s in poor taste, and a slap at the store owner who has to pay rent.

Don’t buy too many cigars at first. Your tastes will almost certainly change along the way and so will the cigars you enjoy. Also, focus more on samplers and less on boxes.

Don’t obsess. Whether it’s humidity levels or finding a new limited edition release, don’t let pursuit create stress. That’s the polar opposite of the mental state cigars should help create.

Don’t flick the ash like it’s a cigarette, and don’t stub out the cigar when you’re done. Just leave it in the ashtray to die on its own.

Do pay attention to what you like and dislike. Note things like the blender and tobaccos. That can help suggest other cigars to try and to avoid. Keeping a simple cigar journal can help with this.

Do experiment. There’s a vast world of cigars out there, and if you limit yourself too soon you run the risk of missing out.

Do listen to informed smokers to gain information and insight, but don’t take anyone’s word as gospel. Remember: The best cigar in the world is the cigar you like the best.

Do select a cigar size appropriate to the time you have for smoking. And when you have it lit, take your time. Smoking is not a race, and you don’t want to overcook the tobacco.

Do enjoy yourself. That’s what it is all about.

For further learning that’s a little more structured than search engines and perusing blogs (all of which are great resources, by the way), check out our Cigar University.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys